Manchester united over city homes plan

Council wants full review of housing affordability on the back of a bold bid for 32,000 new homes by 2025.

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Fighting back against austerity, Manchester looks set for a full review of its housing affordability on the back of a bold bid to bring 32,000 new homes to the city by 2025.

A report due before Manchester City council’s executive this week pitches 6,400 affordable homes, 3,400 additional affordable homes, 1,000 social rent homes and 3,000 new Council-built homes.

There’s also scope for a feasibility study into an affordable housing scheme in the city centre and community-led projects.

The report will present a range of policy ideas reacting to challenges faced by Manchester’s housing market as the city’s population grows rapidly, and sustained austerity – along with welfare changes including Universal Credit – continues to put pressure on the city’s most vulnerable residents, with 5,000 people in need on the housing register and a marked increase in homelessness.

Updating an ambitious commitment in 2015, the Council predicts 32,000 new homes will be built in the city from April 2015 to March 2026, including 6,400 affordable homes to meet the city’s 20% affordable homes ambition.

Cllr Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, said: “These new policies signal a bold new approach to deliver genuinely affordable homes that meet the needs of all Manchester people.

“The impact of years of austerity on the city’s public services and punishing welfare forms that have squeezed family budgets mean we have to try to do more with less money to support those residents on the lowest incomes.

This review of housing affordability is critical to understanding what we can do to improve access to decent, secure and affordable homes.”

Since April 2015, 3,000 affordable homes have either already been delivered or are in the pipeline, with the full quota to be delivered by March 2021, and a further 3,400 affordable homes will be built by March 2025 – at least 1,000 of which will be social rent.

The policy paper going to the Council’s scrutiny committee and executive will advise that 3,000 new Council-built homes should be built in the next 10 years, split equally between social rent, affordable rent and shared ownership to give residents options to access high-quality housing regardless of their income.

This, the report says, will help absorb home losses to Right to Buy and amount to 1,500 net new additional Council homes in the city.

The Council will also explore how Council homes can be built outside of the Right to Buy legislation in the city’s four affordability zones.

The paper also commits to a feasibility study into an affordable housing project in the city centre to further explore housing options for people on lower incomes.

The Council will continue to build its strong relationship with Registered Housing Providers and private sector developers to drive home building that is right for Manchester and its residents.

500 plots on small sites will be released to Registered Providers by March 2019, where at least a third of the homes built will be social rent and will be delivered in full by 2022.

The report also urges increased opportunities for older people to access appropriate accommodation (such as Extra Care) that meets their needs, which also helps to free up larger family homes and open them up to people in need on the housing register.

To unleash the potential of grassroots housing demand, the Council will explore the feasibility of three community-led housing projects for people to build their own homes on Council land.

The plan is unveiled against a background of social factors including a 40% plus cut to the council’s budget.

There’s been a growth in statutory homeless demand, by which the Council that leased around 150 PRS properties as temporary accommodation in 2014 has gone on to over 1,350 properties and is continuing to grow.

Over 5,000 people and families are classified as in need on the Council’s housing register, with 13,000 people and families on the register in total.

This number is increasing as the number of new lets is decreasing.

Last year, just over 2,700 affordable homes were let through Manchester Move.

Off the back the recession, the City has achieved a strong economic recovery which has been underpinned by a Residential Growth Strategy.

When agreed, the Strategy set a target to deliver 25,000 new homes between April 2015 and March 2025, an average of 2,500 homes each year.

In the region of 3,000 affordable homes have been delivered (around 800) or will be delivered (around 2,200) between April 2015 and March 2021, with at least a further 3,400 to be delivered to meet the Council’s 20% affordable housing target by March 2025.

This means that compared to the previous target of 5,000 affordable homes (20% of 25,000 new homes) the Council is on track to deliver an additional 1,400 affordable homes than was originally planned by March 2025.

But the city has lost significant numbers of affordable homes to Right to Buy (RtB).

Such sales peaked in 2017/18 and around 500 affordable homes are predicted to be lost to RtB in the city over 2018/19, around 170 Council-owned and some 330 owned by Registered Providers.

The report says that if RtB purchases continue at this rate, over the next 30 years the accommodation managed on the Council’s behalf would reduce from the current level of around 12,900 homes to around 8,500 homes.

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